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  • 16 Nov 2016

LvAi sparks customized candy revolution

A Chinese candy manufacturer has transformed its business with the installation of an HP Indigo 20000 press, targeting a new generation of social media conscious consumers.

Shandong-based LvAi Food has installed an HP Indigo 20000 digital press to print flexible packaging for its candies, becoming the first user of this press model in China and drawing sensational attention from the whole label and packaging industry.

Established in 2005, Shandong LvAi Food Co Ltd is located in Linyi city, Shandong province. It produces a range of high-end snack foods, or candies, such as peppermints, coffee candy and gums, and owns famous candy brands such as Aixi and Comte5. Now this traditional candy producer has shot to fame – in the printing industry. LvAi is a traditional candy producer whose sales have been growing slowly in recent years, with business performance even going down.

‘This is the same problem most Chinese and even international food manufacturers are facing,’ says the company’s Guo Jianbo. ‘During our investigation, we found the consumption demands of our whole society have undergone a fundamental change. Consumers born in the 1980s and 1990s place more emphasis on the quality and personality of products rather than the price. And their preferred media and social interaction have also changed a lot. Numerous examples indicate that there will be a blind alley if manufacturers do not change their ways. Therefore, LvAi started planning a customized service for customers in 2015.’

New business

LvAi had previously used a traditional gravure-led printing house for its packaging. But the requirements for multiple sets of cylinders and a delivery period of generally 15-20 days means the costs are simply too high for most small food and beverage suppliers and photographic studios, and the delivery periods too long. To make matters worse, the print results were not good quality. So LvAi decided to search for a new solution and came across HP Indigo digital printing.

After installation of the HP Indigo 20000, LvAi launched a new business where the cost per job reduced from at least 20,000 RMB (3,000 USD) to 990 RMB (148 USD) per 10,000 pieces. Customers simply provide packaging ideas, and upload them to the LvAi E-shop (www.lvais.com), which went on line on July 17, where LvAi takes the order.

Each candy has its own ID for data tracking purposes for the various steps from production and packaging to logistics, explains Guo Jianbo. ‘Currently, the 990 RMB customization is for B2B only, and we can deliver the finished products within 48 hours. Following a period of continuous development, LvAi will launch the service for 99 RMB or even cheaper and the delivery period will also be shortened.’

In Guo’s view, these developments represent an ‘unavoidable trend’. Thanks to the HP Indigo 20000, he believes that the production of small orders, fast and with extreme customization, will

no longer be a problem for LvAi. After the digital press was put into production, LvAi set up a printing division to provide flexible packaging samples and personalized printing.

At present, LvAi’s products are positioned as ‘mobile internet app-personalized candy’, which means printing a QR code and brand logo along with related information, turning the ordinary candy into a ‘multimedia leaflet’ for brand promotion. Image, video and AR content can all be integrated into the QR code.

‘It’s been more than 200 days since we decided to produce customized candy, and all LvAi staff are working every minute on it.  The teams of HP and Syntax also helped us a lot,’ says Guo.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kevin Liu is a former China editor for Labels & Labeling. He now serves as China project director.

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